Northwest Battle Buddies of Battle Ground Washington (http://www.northwestbattlebuddies.org/ ) trains service dogs for veterans with PTSD. What sets them apart from other trainers is that they provide the dog at no cost to the veteran.
If you’ve been following any of Tire Kickers blogs or social media just ahead of Christmas you couldn’t miss the clothing/textile drive for Northwest Battle Buddies. The drive was a huge success and we had a lot of fun. We’re proud to report that Northwest battle buddies has garnered the attention of UPS who has produced a great video. Follow the link to see the video.
Tire Kickers is proud to partner with charities like Northwest Battle Buddies to benefit veterans. Stay tuned to learn about upcoming charity events we take part in.
Tire Kickers is also proudly supporting two other charities. One being Union Gospel Mission of Portland, who have benefited from clothing, shoes, and coats donated to a Tire Kicker drive. Please consider those who need assistance this winter. https://ugmportland.org/
Another charity Tire Kickers is proud to partner with is Dream Big. At Dream Big Community Center young people receive encouragement to aim higher. Many young people don’t realize the limitations they place on themselves simply by deciding something is not attainable for them. To learn more about Dream Big check out their website. http://dreambigcc.org/
Get your hands dirty, avoid the cops, and generally know what you’re doing.
The following post comes from Car and Driver magazine. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Original Story From: http://www.caranddriver.com/features/drivers-education-the-6-things-every-driver-should-know-how-to-do-everyone-violates-the-speed-limit-sometimes-page-2
The owner’s manual of any car will tell you—in the most excruciatingly simplistic step-by-step manner possible—how to operate everything from the seatbelts to the trunk lock and how to finely tune the rear headrests with ferocious, compulsive precision. And on virtually every page there will be a yellow box screaming at you not to do something stupid like lick the brake discs or serve the radiator water as an after-dinner digestif. After all, based on the advice of their attorneys, manufacturers have to assume that anyone who buys their cars must be a total moron.
Although the average owner’s manual overdoes it, that doesn’t mean we can’t all use an occasional refresher course in automotive common sense. And, don’t take this wrong, but we know there are plenty of you out there who won’t admit to the simple things you flat never learned.
So here is our unabashed (but slightly bashed) guide to the most elementary challenges of automotive operation. This is the stuff you didn’t necessarily learn in drivers’ education and your father just assumed you learned through transgenerational osmosis.
How to Change a Tire
It used to be that blowouts were a regular motoring event—right up there with thumping the occasional headlight-mesmerized raccoon and being forced to use a gnarly gas-station restroom. Thankfully, modern tires rarely shed a tread or spontaneously deteriorate. But guaranteed there will come a time when you’ll be forced to change a tire.
If a tire blows, don’t try to save it or its wheel by stopping immediately in a lousy situation; the shoulder of a busy freeway counts as a lousy situation. If possible, find a level, solid, well-lit surface and park, even if that means driving a mile at low speed with your hazard lights on. And for God’s sake, don’t stop in traffic. Ever. Then make sure the car can’t roll. The parking brake should be on, and the transmission in park (in an automatic) or in gear (in a manual).
Grab the spare, lug wrench, and jack. Most newer cars use scissors-type jacks that raise the car up at a predefined point on the car’s structure. All the info on where the tools and jacking points are is in the owner’s manual.
Now, lift the car using the jacking point nearest the disabled wheel so that the weight of the car is on the jack but the tire is still in contact with the road. If there’s a hubcap, that will need to be removed so the lug nuts can be accessed.
With the tire still in contact with the road, the lug nuts should be cracked loose (counterclockwise) but not removed. The car can then be jacked up farther and the lugs removed. With the nuts off, the tire and wheel assembly can be removed.
Put the spare on, and hand-tighten the lug nuts (clockwise). The car can now be lowered so the tire is touching the ground, although the car’s weight should remain on the jack. The lug nuts should then be tightened further using a star pattern (around the wheel, skipping every other lug) to ensure that they snug down evenly on the wheel.
Lower the car all the way onto the ground. Tighten the lug nuts down as snugly as possible. Hit the road.
How to Jump-Start a Car
First, make sure it’s the battery that’s really the problem. If the car’s lights come on brightly and the starter motor churns with its usual ferocity, the battery is likely heaving out plenty of amps.
Second, make sure you have a good set of jumper cables—robust, rubber-coated cables that can handle the amperage. Virtually all jumper cables should be color-coded with the red clamp intended for the positive pole on the battery and the black clamp for the negative.
Ideally, the car with the bum battery and the jump car should be parked on a clean, dry surface. And they should be parked so that the cars’ batteries are accessible and close enough to each other that the cables can comfortably span the space between them without being taut.
With both cars off, attach one of the red clamps to the positive (+) terminal on the battery that’s presumed bad. Be careful of the other red clamp—it’s now live. Then connect that other red clamp to the positive terminal on the jump car’s battery. After that, one black clamp goes to the negative (-) terminal on the good battery while the other black clamp should go to an unpainted steel surface on the stalled car, to be grounded.
Start the car with the good battery. Routing the cables this way uses the battery on the live car to start the disabled car, so there is no need to wait for the dead battery to charge. Start the dead car. Remove the cables in reverse order, close the respective hoods, and operate the two cars as usual.
If the electrical system in the car with the drained battery is otherwise okay, the battery should be recharged after about 15 minutes of driving and the whole thing should be okey-dokey.
Alternatively: If the car with the dead battery has a manual transmission, there’s always bump-starting the car, too. With the key turned on, the car in first gear, and the clutch pushed in, get the car rolling forward (by pushing it or by rolling down a conveniently located hill), and once up to jogging speed, quickly release the clutch. The car should jerk, then start.
How to Check Your Tire Pressure
Everything any car does depends on the four rubber donuts on which it sits. Making sure those tires are properly inflated is the best way to guarantee your car performs at its best from a handling and fuel-efficiency standpoint.
There are fancy tire gauges and straightforward tire gauges, but they all work pretty much the same way. Simply take the gauge to each tire, remove the valve-stem cap (and put it in your pocket so you don’t lose it on the ground), press the gauge flat against the valve stem, and the gauge will read the pressure. If you hear air hissing out of the valve alongside the gauge, you don’t have a complete seal and will get an inaccurate reading. What that reading should be is usually listed on a sticker in one of the front doorjambs. Or it’s in the owner’s manual. The proper pressure is not the maximum listed on the tire itself; that’s often far too high.
After that, it’s a matter of adding air and rechecking the pressure until the tires are at their correct inflation. But be careful not to overinflate, because that leaves the car riding on smaller, less stable contact patches.
Remember, it’s best to measure your tire pressure when the tires are cold—after the car has been parked for the night is ideal. Tires that are warm after running all day will have a higher pressure from the additional heat. Tire pressures should be checked at least once a month.
Alternatively: When tires shred, steel wheels make beautiful sparks against the pavement.
How to Check Your Oil
The oil in your car’s engine is there to lubricate, not burn. So checking your oil is a way to determine if there’s enough of the stuff aboard and if the engine has developed an appetite for it.
First, look in the owner’s manual and determine where the oil dipstick is. In most cars it’s alongside the engine block and marked with a brightly colored handle and an oil-can icon.
Take your car for a spin to warm the oil to normal operating temperature. Then park the car on a level surface and let it sit with the engine off for at least five or ten minutes. Open the hood, find the dipstick, and pull it out by the handle. The long shaft of metal that makes up the majority of the stick should be covered in engine oil. Wipe that off with a clean rag.
Don’t run your engine on a measly oil supply. Add the appropriate type of motor oil (that’s in the owner’s manual, too) as soon as possible to an engine that’s low. Even if it’s only been a few hundred miles since the oil sump was filled, you could have serious problems.
Alternatively:Throwing a bearing is destructive and dramatic.
How to Get Unstuck
You just drove into muck, and the car is stuck. What to do?
From snow: It’s critical to keep a light foot on the gas, because too much throttle merely spins the tires, heating them up and melting the snow around them, which will refreeze into ice.
First, get out and see how bad you are stuck. If it is just your drive wheels that are blocked, the process will be much simpler. But if you tried to plow through a drift and the whole car is angled on a mound of snow, you’re going to have to do some digging first to get the car back on solid ground.
If you can move at all, “rock” the vehicle back and forth by shifting between drive and reverse and going as far as you can in either direction. Be careful not to step on the gas before the gear engages, or you could do serious damage to the transmission. Sometimes it helps to clear a little space around your front tires by cranking the steering wheel back and forth. You can get a little extra traction by putting cardboard under the drive wheels, too. If there’s no cardboard around and the situation is desperate, the car’s floor mats might also work. If that fails, keep shoveling.
From mud or sand: Whatever you do, don’t spin the tires. That will just dig a deeper hole. Instead, put something in the intended path of the drive wheels—palm fronds, branches, beach towels, wood blocks, your kid brother, anything—and proceed slowly.
Ideally, if you’re wandering off-road, you should bring a mud ladder or sand ladder with you. Mud and sand ladders are basically small bridges made of steel, rope, or wood that can be placed before the drive wheels and driven across. Of course, anyone so well prepared as to have a sand or mud ladder along is also more likely to have a buddy with a winch nearby.
Alternatively:Abandon the vehicle in place and buy a new one.
How to Spot Cops
Everyone violates the speed limit sometimes, but there are ways to minimize the chances of getting caught.
First, know what the cops drive. Most still use the Ford Crown Victoria, although the Dodge Charger is coming online with many highway patrols and state police agencies, and a few have adopted the Chevy Impala. Learn to identify what a Crown Vic, Charger, or Impala looks like in your rearview mirror, and react accordingly. Note particularly the shape and position of the parking lights relative to the headlights; this can be a telltale sign at night.
Second, keep a running mental inventory of traffic around you. If cars are suddenly slowing for no apparent reason, it might be because there’s a reason apparent to them.
Third, be aware of on-ramps and areas where police can hide easily. Cops often patrol the same stretch of pavement for days on end. They know all the easy fishing spots, so be aware of large bushes, overpasses, big signs, and anywhere else it would be easy for a police vehicle to hide.
And all this is before considering radar. For that, you might want to buy a radar detector.
Alternatively: You can always strictly obey the speed limit. Just kidding.
The Kicker is a monthly, free-of-charge, newsletter dedicated to informing the public about vehicle safety.
Now you don’t have to be an expert to have confidence in your car buying choice.
Welcome to The Kicker
Welcome to “The Kicker,” a vehicle owner’s newsletter sponsored by Tire Kickers, the premier independent 3rd party inspection service. If you own something with two, three, or four wheels and a motor read on to learn important information you’ll find interesting. The Kicker comes to you monthly free of charge and chock full of information on the topics of interest to anyone who likes, owns, or operates a vehicle. The Kicker is fully compliant with Can Spam standards and if at any time you decide you’re not interested you’ll find an unsubscribe link at the bottom of each issue.
What’s ahead in this issue?
1) This one little known fact about your vehicle could cost you thousands, or worse!
2) In The Spotlight: An Interview with the owner of Tire Kickers
3) 1 minute habit that could save a life
4) Impaired Driving: More impaired than you might think
Now you don’t have to be an expert to have confidence in your car buying choice.
In honor of our sponsor, this month’s featured automotive advance is independent car inspection. We’ve interviewed Tire Kickers founder, Jay Ackerland, about the car inspection business.
Jay, why would someone need a car inspection? What do you mean by saying Independent and 3rd party?
Independent means that we aren’t secretly owned by another automotive interest. 3rd party means we don’t buy cars, we don’t sell cars, we don’t fix cars. And that sets us apart from nearly everybody else who’s going to inspect your vehicle.
What makes your inspectors special?
All of our inspectors are required to attend our rigorous 40 hour training course, as well as on-the-job training and continuing education seminars. Our training course was designed by a former U.S. Air Force mechanic with military standards as the model. We are proud to train and employ our returning veterans because we know that they will follow the inspection to a tee, every time. We train our inspectors to treat the inspection like their own family would be riding in the vehicle.
Roughly what percentage of cars your company inspects ends up having a problem?
Nearly every vehicle we inspect has some sort of minor cosmetic damage, but this is not our focus. Our focus is on finding unsafe equipment. In our experience, nearly half of the vehicles we inspect have issues with tire safety. Because the tire industry is under-regulated in our country, we find new vehicles with old tires all the time. It’s important to remember that just because a tire has enough tread doesn’t mean the tire is safe.
Entrepreneurs are always passionate about their companies, but you seem almost fanatical about establishing car safety and accurate value. What drives you?
Our biggest focus is on improving the safety for everyone on the road, whether we inspect their vehicle or not. I want to be able to drive down the road and not wonder whether or not the car next to me has 10 year old tires that are much more likely to have a catastrophic failure. From the beginning, Tire Kickers has been about helping people protect their families. As we expanded our services we have come to help protect our customer’s investments by providing a fair value for the vehicles we inspect. This value, of course, is most heavily weighted by the safety aspects of the vehicle.
Thank you for your time Jay, it was great to get to know more about what Tire Kickers stands for.
Thank you, the more people who are aware of our mission of safer streets the better!
Link to next Article: 1 minute habit that could save a life
Well, we hope you’ve enjoyed this issue of The Kicker. Be sure to check out our sponsor’s website and social media at the links below for up to the minute information on vehicle safety and value, and occasional special offers.
PS If the company you work for offers benefits have your HR department contact Tire Kickers to negotiate a special rate for you and your fellow employees.
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Car Maintenance Guides
- No matter how short your trip you should always do the following:
- Unless your car is in your garage check the back seat to make sure no one is hiding there.
- Then walk 360 degrees around your car and verify that your tires have adequate tread and no visible damage.
- Bend down and look for fluid on the ground that could indicate a leak.
- Once inside, check you visibility. Are the windows free of cracks? Are the mirrors set correctly?
- Upon starting your car, check your gages. Secure anything that might shift during transit.
- Before shifting into gear, has everyone put their seat belts on?
Monthly (or Pre-Trip) Inspection
- In addition to the above pre-drive habit, before a trip:
- Check your fluids, wiper fluids, radiator coolant, brake & transmission. A complete list should be in your owner’s manual.
- Check the sticker in your window to verify that you don’t need an oil change.
- Consider having your battery tested, especially in winter.
- Check your air filter. Often you can simply bang debris out by hitting it on the palm of your hand. Then check how dark a gray it is. Remember it was bright white when installed and it’s cheap to replace.
- Have someone stand behind your car and verify that your brake and tail lights are working.
- Inspect your windshield wiper blades for cracks or tares.
- Make sure there aren’t any safety recalls on your vehicle
- Finally, locate your spare tire and make sure it’s inflated and that the jack works.
Yearly – Professional Safety Inspection
As with dental visits, an annual safety inspection can reduce hassle and expense by finding problems before they develop. Also like a dental visit, it’s best to call in a trained professional.
A Tire Kickers Safety Inspection includes a visual inspection of all items on your vehicle to insure it is road worthy and safe to drive, and then goes in depth working from a list of what would strand you fastest.
Areas of in-depth inspection include:
Tires (pressure, tread depth, manufacturer recalls, proper type and size, manufacture date)
Engine (belts, hoses and fluid levels)
Electrical: battery condition, headlights, taillights, turn signals, emergency flashers, brake lights, all dash warning lights and more.
The Kicker – Newsletter
Helpful Videos Link
The process begins once the request has been received through our website or customer service center. Once we have the location of the vehicle, a certified Tire Kickers inspector is immediately dispatched to perform the inspection. The inspection begins with the collection of some general information such as the year, manufacturer, model VIN number and mileage. This information is vital when establishing value. It also allows us to verify that the information collected is accurate. Throughout the inspection you may notice our inspector taking pictures. This is done to provide any visual evidence that may arise.
The evaluation of the overall safety of the vehicle is the next step. During this phase of the inspection a series of items such as headlights, turn signals, glass, and most importantly tires are evaluated. If the vehicle fails this section of the inspection, the interested buyer is advised and asked if they want to proceed. If they elect to proceed then the inspection moves onto the next section. If however, they decide that based on the results of the safety inspection that they are no longer interested in pursuing the purchase of the vehicle, they will receive a refund in the amount of the difference of the inspection ordered and the one performed.
Once the safety portion of the inspection has been completed, the inspector will begin the next phase which evaluates the overall condition of the exterior of the vehicle. It’s during this stage where paint flaws and dents as well as any other conditions that may be present are noted.
Once the exterior has been inspected we move into the interior. The interior inspection checks all the options, electronics, climate controls and gauges to make sure they are functioning correctly. The condition of the seats, carpet and dashboard are also evaluated.
The final phase of the inspection involves the test drive of the automobile by one of our highly trained inspectors. This one of the most critical components of the whole inspection. It is during this phase that breaking, acceleration and overall engine performance is evaluated and scored.
By the time this phase has been completed we have now invested about an hour into the evaluation of your next automobile. While the inspection may appear complete it is far from over. The inspector now remotely sends his findings and photos into our processing facility. Once there one of our processors use highly sophisticated algorithms to analyze the data accumulated over the course of the inspection. The results give us the information necessary to establish a fair market value. Upon completion all the data and photos are compiled into a Tire Kickers report. For your convenience and upon your request, additional copies of this report can also be emailed to your lender and insurance agent.
Your Tire Kickers report will help you determine if this vehicle still meets your needs. It will give you leverage to better negotiate with the dealer on price. But most importantly, it will give you peace of mind.